Are fat jokes permissible when they’re making fun of a fat jerk? This is the dilemma posed by TMZ’s coverage of Chris Brown’s post-prison body. The photos of Brown’s belly — headline: “These Rolls Ain’t Loyal” — caused a certain collective, involuntary sense of relief among the Cut's staff. Here was a male celebrity facing the same merciless bodily scrutiny we’ve seen trained on women like Jessica Simpson and Kim Kardashian. And the male celebrity in question was the girlfriend-hitting man behind 2014’s degradation anthem.
For this catharsis, we must thank TMZ. The tabloid has always taken pot shots at the incarcerated or injured athletes (O.J. Simpson, Derek Jeter) for gaining weight, but this spring and summer saw unprecedented levels of male celebrity body-shaming. We've argued before that you can't fat-shame a man, but TMZ is certainly giving it a shot. In a media landscape where the dramatization of women’s weight fluctuations is ubiquitous, they are committed to achieving gender parity.
It kicked off bikini-body season by gender-flipping the Fat Tuesday tradition of bare breasts. “Mardis Gras Man Boobs: Guess Who?” featured the droopy pectorals of Jack Nicholson, Simon Cowell, Steven Tyler, and more. April brought the gleeful fat-shaming of the model-ized “Leolardo DiFlabrio.” May was Rob Kardashian’s month, as his weight reportedly caused a rift with his sister in the lead-up to her Florence nuptials. TMZ took Kim’s side: “Would You Like Chicken or Fish (Or Both)?” they asked before his flight to Europe. Not even Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s son, Conor, was spared the wrath of TMZ’s virtual tape measure. Conor is 19.
Fat-shaming teens is so cruel it all but takes the fun out of leveling the fat-shame playing field, gender-wise. And of course I’d prefer if no one, male or female, felt bad about their bodies ever. But TMZ’s summer of dude scrutiny does suggest that, when used properly, fat-shaming is a uniquely powerful weapon. Chris Brown can beat up his girlfriend, play the smart-ass, violate his probation, go to jail, and get out to the sound of his theory of hoes blasting out of one in three vehicles. But when TMZ remarks how “brave” Brown is for hitting the beach with that body, for the first time he actually looks a little vulnerable.
Most Viewed Stories
Celebrities Get Angry About Airline’s Leggings Ban
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s New Neighbors Are Justifiably Annoyed
Ali Wong Loves Kondo-ing So Much, She Named Her Daughter After It
Bobbi Brown on Why She Really Left Her Brand and Resisted Making a Contour Palette, and Her Next Moves
The Blaze Has Permanently Banned Tomi Lahren
What Is in Sean Spicer’s Teeth?
The Virgin Ignoring Texts From London
Madame Clairevoyant: Horoscopes for the Week of March 27
The Moment Khloé Asked the Cameras to Stop Filming
What Exactly Is Going On With Donald and Melania’s Body Language?
The Cut’s Latest Love and War FeaturesA Holiday Season Weekend Through London
A good guide for avid The Crown fans.It’s About Time You Learned Tove Lo’s Name
The singer has crafted pop hits you’ve heard a thousand times by now.Marina Abramovic Has Outlasted Her Lovers and, She Hopes, Her Critics
The world's most famous performance artist at 70.The Wing: Do Women Still Need a Space of Their Own?
This exclusive social club for women, is part sorority, part start-up.In Virtual Reality, Women Run the World
A new generation of female artists is making VR the most diverse corner of the male-dominated tech space.The Novelist Disguised As a Housewife
Shirley Jackson wrote 17 books while raising four children — and she couldn't have had a successful career without them.Ava DuVernay on Hollywood Racism, Modern-Day Slavery, and Why She’s Still an Optimist
The director, whose new documentary The 13th chronicles America’s history of racial subjugation, talks to Rebecca Traister about Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and the modern criminal-justice system.What No One Tells Couples Trying to Conceive
It helps to be rich.The Hidden Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
A segregated unit of mathematicians born of desperation during World War II became the secret to NASA’s success.Slut-Shaming Squids Are Everywhere
The “Bermuda Square” comic strip is back.
The collaboration that dreams are made of.Good Morning America Host Amy Robach Apologizes for Saying ‘Colored People’ on Air
She quickly apologized.Unknown NFL Player Tries to Get Attention by Asking Aly Raisman Out in Video
That’s one way to do it.Don’t Mess This Up, Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper is poised for a comeback ... maybe.California Votes to Remove Time Limit on Prosecuting Rape Cases
In light of the Bill Cosby case.Beyoncé’s Behind-the-Scenes Lemonade Photos Belong in a Museum
She had the "Boycott Beyoncé" sign already in formation on set.The Rise of the Male Celebrity Full-Frontal
An ex-publicist explains.Gabby Douglas Will Be a Miss America Judge
The gold-medal gymnast will help choose the 2017 pageant winner.Camille Becerra’s Photo Diary of Rockaway Beach
An ideal trip to add and cross off your summer bucket list.Sorry Nerds, Ian McKellen Won’t Officiate Your Expensive Lord of the Rings–Themed Wedding
Not even for $1.5 million.